In his revival sermon at Huusier Paluuza, the Rev. Bill Breeden told the story of how the new partner of a widowed woman in the Bloomington congregation told him that for thirty years he had sung in a barbershop group with three men who were Unitarian Universalists and members of the church and not once did they ever mention it to him. He said that the spiritual community he had found there through his partner was what he had dreamed of for decades.
Wow! Thirty years and not one of them shared with this man anything about their faith or their church home. What’s up with that? If we discover a really good restaurant we tell anyone who’ll listen; if we find a great new vacation spot we share it on facebook; if we’re fans of a band or a sports team we post about it on Twitter. So, why do we shy away from letting other people know about the place where we spend most of our Sundays and many of our evenings? What keeps us from talking to others about the thing that is at the center of our lives and gives it meaning?
Is it the fear of evangelizing?
To evangelize means only to proclaim or spread the gospel. As Unitarian Universalists that would mean our principles and our experience as members of the beloved community. It isn’t our intent when we share with another person our experience as people of faith to convert them—that would be proselytizing, not evangelizing.
Currently on the UUA’s Growth Blog there is a guest post by Michael Durall called, Church Do’s and Don’ts, a list of things to do or not do if you want your congregation to grow. One of the items is: “Evangelism Could Be Fun If Your Church is Worth Talking About. Don’t want talk about your church with others? If something truly important is going on, you would.” I think that I can speak for most of us and say that we do feel something important is going on here. Otherwise this place wouldn’t be as vibrant as it is.
So, go ahead and evangelize! Let’s not be stingy with our faith. Talk about your faith and UUI with the people with whom you work and socialize. What we have is good news for those who are tired and lonely. What we believe in will help heal those who have been wounded by the dogma of other religions and denominations. Our worship will bring joy to those who have been searching for a faith and a church home that is welcoming and inclusive.
Don’t wait thirty years.
Peace be with you,